How a Niche Chicago Site Cracked Open a Major Schools Scandal
When the former head of the Chicago Public Schools was indicted earlier this month in connection with a multi-million dollar bribery and kickback scheme, every media outlet in the city was on the story.
That wasn’t the case two years ago when Sarah Karp, a veteran education reporter, first disclosed details of a questionable $20.5 million no-bid contract to train school administrators. Karp’s initial reporting on the contract, which ran on the website of the newsmagazine Catalyst Chicago, didn’t make much of a splash. But it caught the attention of the school district’s inspector general, who reached out to Karp to learn more. It also drew notice from federal prosecutors, whose investigation into the case became public earlier this year—the US Attorney even made reference to Karp’s 2013 article when he announced the indictment this month. A few days later, the former schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, pleaded guilty to fraud.